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Thomas Cook collapse causes widespread disruption in Spain and affects 15 Costa hotels

Hotel Amaragua had the largest number of clients on the Costa.
Hotel Amaragua had the largest number of clients on the Costa. / S. S.
  • The around 750 customers in the local area have been largely unaffected but the operator's demise leaves a debt of two million euros

The UK government is making arrangements to repatriate thousands of holidaymakers trapped in Spain following the collapse of holiday giant Thomas Cook early on Monday morning.

The company, which brings seven million visitors to Spain every year, went into compulsory liquidation after 178 years of operation following a failed 11th-hour rescue attempt.

The Thomas Cook crisis has affected some 600,000 tourists stranded around the world as their return flights were cancelled when the operator ceased trading. Some 22,000 employees across 16 countries, 9,000 of whom are British, are also affected.

Governments around Europe have launched major repatriation operations, with the UK making alternative arrangements for more than 150,000 British tourists at various destinations.

While Thomas Cook stopped operating flights to Malaga and the Costa del Sol two years ago, the company's demise is thought to have caught around 750 customers on holiday on the Costa del Sol.

Unlike travellers elsewhere in Spain, those on the Costa del Sol at the time of the company's collapse have been virtually unaffected. None of them has been left without a flight home as the operator stopped using Malaga Airport two years ago and its holidaymakers travelled with different airlines.

The biggest concern on the Costa is the around two-million-euro debt which is now owed to hotels. According to the Costa del Sol hoteliers' association, Thomas Cook sent customers to 15 hotels in the province of Malaga, the biggest part of them belonging to the MS group in Torremolinos.

Almeria

The only airport to be affected in Andalucía is Almeria where some 12 flights to Birmingham, London and Manchester were cancelled on Monday.

Thomas Cook only flew holidaymakers to Almeria in spring and summer but numerous flights had been scheduled between now and the end of September. The company also operated links between Almeria and Bristol.

It is thought that around 1,800 British customers were on holiday in Almeria when Thomas Cook ceased trading on Monday, mainly in resorts in Roquetas del Mar and Mojácar, among other destinations.

Eleven airports disrupted

In Spain overall, British holidaymakers due to travel home from 11 Spanish airports have been affected.

These are Alicante, Almeria, Gerona and Reus on the mainland, Ibiza, Menorca and Palma in the Balearics and Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife in the Canaries.

It is thought that more than 30,000 holidaymakers are affected in the Canary Islands alone, according to a hoteliers spokesperson in Las Palmas.

Repatriation

Those without return flights to the UK are being repatriated by the British government as part of Operation Matterhorn, the largest peace-time repatriation operation in history.

It is being coordinated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and will operate until 6 October at an estimated cost of 100 million pounds. Planes borrowed from other companies will be used in a similar fashion to when Monarch went bust in 2017. At that time 567 planes were needed to repatriate some 84,000 stranded tourists.

Meanwhile, those who had booked holidays but had not yet departed are complaining of other rival airlines attempting to "cash in" on the situation. In many cases, the costs of flights to traditional Thomas Cook destinations have tripled in price since the company went bust.